- Published on Tuesday, July 10 2012
- Written by Katie Marzullo
It seems like the rumor mill regarding a Janis Joplin biopic has been steadily churning for like a half-century now… but without any actual water. Some of the biggest names in movies and music alike have at some point been suggested to play the legendary late blues-rock singer. It’s certainly a story that one might have thought would be a movie by now (“30 Rock”’s attempt notwithstanding) – the outcast musician, shunned by her peers, not blessed with cover-girl looks but possesses a powerhouse voice that provides the soundtrack to an entire generation… and tragically dies of a drug overdose at that omnipresent age of 27.
Renee Zellweger, P!nk, and Joss Stone are just a few of the names that I’ve heard in contention to land this primo role. But, ultimately, filmmakers decided to go with someone who has the chops but not necessarily the Hollywood klout.
If the name Nina Arianda is familiar to you, then you’re either a personal friend of hers or a big fan of the New York theatre scene. For the past two years, Nina has been lighting up the lights on Broadway with critically-acclaimed performances in shows like Born Yesterday and Venus in Fur, the latter of which earned her a Tony Award last month. On the big screen, you might remember Nina as Carol in Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris (though I don’t… and I saw that movie!) and, more recently, Tower Heist. Her list of credits are short, but clearly she is making a big impact. And now she has won the role of a lifetime.
Certainly, Janis Joplin was a big, sometimes over-the-top personality, so you would need someone who could pull that off. Who better than a theatre actress? From what I hear, Ms. Arianda has comparable singing voice and will therefore be doing her own singing. In terms of physicality, though, Nina has a rather sweet, delicate countenance – remember, she played Billie Dawn in Born Yesterday; anyone who has seen that show or that movie will know what I’m talking about. Will she be able to transform herself into a gritty, take-no-shiz rock singer like Janis?
We’ll leave that up to director Sean Durkin. The winner of Sundance’s Directing Award this year for his breakout film Martha Marcy May Marlene will no doubt use the same approach with Nina as he did with his star Elizabeth Olsen, crafting an intense, unforgettable performance from someone who, on the outside, you wouldn’t expect had it in them. I’m quite intrigued to see how this plays out!
- Katie Marzullo, YH Staff Editor